When America goes to war, it attempts to halt destruction, atrocity, and murderous brutality by its enemies. Another reason for going to war is to prevent further slaughter or exploitation or ending slavery. The ultimate aim of a war is to reestablish social and political order and impose some measure of justice over the aggressors who first caused the conflict.
There are two kinds of war –limited and unlimited. Wars of annihilation seek to devastate, murder, slaughter and expunge from history a group of hated people. We are currently waging such a war against IS. It’s the same kind of war we waged against the Nazis and the Japanese military in World War II. That war was an unlimited one -- a fact we tend to forget.
Our Western civilization is a one based on the Christian faith in which the development of individual human souls, individual human personalities, is is the destination and goal of history. As the historian Herbert Butterfield said, every human being is “a separate well of life,” and as such, deserves to be treated with respect and compassion. This view collides with the biological view of life which sees the end of life as the advancement of the species, not the individual. The preciousness of the individual soul, its innate value in the eyes of God, is discarded as useless by such a view. The worship of the collectivity, displayed by Nazism and Communism, cares little about the individual human destiny. To them, individual human beings are simply the means, spent carelessly and lavishly in order to secure the victorious collectivity. This contradicts the Christian idea that the individual soul has a value that cannot be weighed, that the individual soul is of eternal moment and should be respected as such. Human beings, the human personality, Butterfield said, “the crowning blossom of civilization.” This is what Greek culture and the Christian traditions have taught us.
War and Values
Unfortunately when war comes, these ideals are quickly sidestepped or ignored or overshadowed by other, more sinister elements and factors. War releases all kinds of vicious vicesa; depraved ambition, voracious greed and an obsession with gaining wordly glory. What emerges in the rank of the “good” side versus the “wicked” side is rivalry that springs up within the “good” factions. The branches of the U.S. armed forces began a campaign to be thought the most decisive factor in victory, the bringer of imperishable triumph. In America, the U.S. Army Air Forces, the U.S. Navy, the U.S. Army, the U.S. Marines quickly began to build their own empires. Ideals and selfish self-interest are blended together so expertly that they seem the identical.
In a very short amount of time, the desire to win at all costs, said to be a chief characteristic of our enemies, becomes our desire as well. War provides incentives for equipment and weapons manufacturers and scientists to devise more deadly weapons. Worse, the warring parties who pretend to serve the Good, are devoured by the desire to profit off of the selling of more deadly and injurious planes, missiles etc. Waging war soon becomes an ideological crusade not waged for human betterment, but waged in the service of vested interests. The aim of war is not simply victory over your enemies, it means trying to reap as much profits as you can while defeating them. The ideals for which the war has ostensibly been fought are contaminated and deformed.
Ideals remind me of a settlement set in a low land, surrounded and protected by a huge dike. The turbid sea surrounds this, and the sea is always at work, searching out ways to seep in, weaken, gain entrance and destroy. Political structures of history provide a framework for human activity, but over time, they pass away. They pass away because of human vices, little defections from honesty and fairness which makes the tottering structure finally collapse.
Wars of Annihilation
My uncle Jim served with the Eighth Air Force. He was a medium sized man slender and strong with sea-blue eyes. He had a loving wife and his children adored him. His father mistreated him. When he got back from serving with the Eighth Air Force and called home from Penn. Station and his father got on the phone As my uncle announced that he had returned alive, all his father said was, “I’ll get your mother.” Late in Jim’s life I once asked him what he hated most in life, and he replied with great passion, “I hate injustice.”
His heart’s desire was to be a pilot, but he had no depth perception and became a nose gunner in a B-17. He had earned a Distinguished Flying Cross after discovering that the man in the rear of his aircraft had gone silent. He went back and found that the plane had been hit and a shell had severed their oxygen lines. Thanks to what he saw, the pilot lowered the altitude and then, with nifty flying, brought the crew home safe.
What had his B-17 bombed? It had bombed Cologne Germany in May of 1942, then it had fire bombed Hamburg. He bombed Berlin twice. He once remarked to me, “It’s good we won the war. If we hadn’t, we have been branded as war criminals. Which we were.”
Strategic Bombing Offensive.
In October of 1917, Winston Churchill wrote, “All attacks on communications and bases have their relation to the main battle. It is not unreasonable to speak of an air offensive as if it were going to finish the war by itself. It improbable that any terrorization of the civil population which could be achieved by an air attack could compel the government of a great nation to surrender.”
He goes on, “In our case, we have seen the combative spirit of the (British) people was roused, not quelled, by the German air raids. Nothing we have learned of the capacity of the German people to endure suffering justifies us in assuming that they could be cowed into submission by such methods, or, indeed, that they would not be rendered more desperately resolved by them.” But then he added, “Any injury to the civil population because of an air attack must be regarded as incidental and inevitable.”
But Churchill changed. In 1940, Churchill was the de facto head of the British Armed Force, and British historian, J/.F.C Fuller said that by endoring such aerial attacks, Churchill detonated “a war of devastation and terrorization unrivalled since the invasion of the Seljuk’s.” We all know what the Seljuk’s did.
In May of 1942, according to historian J.M. Spaight, the British bombed objectives on the German mainland before the Germans began to bomb objectives on the British mainland. Freiburg was the first German target to be savaged.
Policies got more bloodthirsty. The Casablanca Conference of January 1943, outlined the chief German targets as the destruction of military, industrial and economic system, aimed at “undermining the morale of the ‘German people to the point where their capacity for armed resistance is fatally weakened.”
In other words, Churchill had come to ignore his own earlier insight and now aimed to destroy not German military and industrial targets, but the lives of innocent German civilians. One such atrocity, the bombing of Cologne, hit the center of the city where some 5000 acres were destroyed and, according to German estimates 11,000 and 14,000 were killed. The main object of the attack were not German industries but German civilians. According to Wikipedia, a total of 12,840 buildings were destroyed of which 2,560 were industrial or commercial buildings. Among the buildings classed as “totally destroyed” were: 7 official administration buildings, 14 public buildings, 7 banks, 9 hospitals, 17 churches, 16 schools, 4 university buildings, 10 postal and railway buildings, 10 buildings of historic interest, 2 newspaper offices, 4 hotels, 2 cinemas and 6 department stores.
The next horror was the firebombing Hamburg, in July 1943. Six British raids hit it at night, the Eighth Air Force hit it twice by day, and 7,500 tons of bombs were dropped. According to the U.S. Strategic Bombing Survey, Europe, between 53 to 60 percent of the city was destroyed and about 80 percent of that was due to fire. About 12.5 square miles was entirely burnt out, 32 square miles was damaged. Between 60,000 to 100,000 were killed, and 750,000 were rendered homeless.
The Survey says, “As many fires broke through the roofs, there arose a column of heated air more than two and a half miles high and one and a half miles in diameter, as measured by the aircraft flying over Hamburg, This column was turbulent and was fed at its base by onrushing cooler ground-surface air. One and a half miles from this fire this draft increased the wind velocity from eleven to thirty-three miles per hour. At the edge of this area, the wind velocity must have been appreciably greater as trees three feet in diameter were uprooted. In a short time, the temperature reached an ignition point for all combustibles and the entire area was ablaze. In such fires, complete burn-out occurred; that is, no trace of combustible material remained and only after two days were the areas cool enough to approach.”
Fuller quotes this account, “Eyewitnesses described how the holocaust was so terrible the air was sucked into from outside the perimeter of the fire. Many were suffocated or shriveled up in the intense heat. Others were drowned on throwing themselves into the canals. Days later, when nearby cellars were opened, thousands were found to have perished as though cooked in an oven.
Next, the Air War Against Japan